How would life feel, if we would only be happy? If we would only experience the happy parts of our life? How would it feel if we would only experience birthday parties, falling in love, hanging out with friends, having success after success, achieve our wildest dreams, and so many more beautiful experiences, one after the other? Would life still be a joyous experience?
I feel like many of us think that life should always be lived happily. With a bright smile on our faces, and happiness in our bodies. I felt the same way, for many years. As if I had to find and create my happiness so that I would only experience a beautiful, wonderful, and marvelous life filled with happy experiences. But you probably already guessed it by the way I shared this story with you. It didn’t last. I never found happiness, nor created ever-lasting happiness for myself. And it frustrated me. How could we live a life that is filled with suffering and pain? Why can’t we live a life full of joy and happiness?
To be completely honest with you, I didn’t figure out the answer to that question until quite recently. Where once again I was frustrated with myself for stressing out over minor things, instead of enjoying life. And then it hit me, like one of those “aha” moments. Where you feel like finally, your eyes are wide open staring straight into the solution.
Part One: It Only Created More Problems
We all want to be happy, it’s something universal I believe. I’ve never heard someone say, “well today I want to feel bad”. Although I believe this, at times, would be the right thing to do. But a happy life is most of the time what we are after. And I feel like we are trying desperately to either create that life or find it. As if it were some object, that we could put on our shelves. But that would mean that happiness is something to acquire and to earn. Which means you can do something to be happy. That would mean that if we keep doing what makes us happy, we will always be happy. But nothing is more untrue. That happy vibe will fade. It will fluctuate between the highs and lows. At times you’ll be extremely happy, others you’ll be down and depressed. So if there is no consistency in happiness, can we be happy all the time? Would it be realistic to put ourselves in a spot where this was our quest, the quest to be happy all the time?
I don’t feel like it would. Putting myself in this spot hasn’t improved much. In fact, it only made things worse. And here is why. The other day I was watching the movie Soul by Pixar Studios. For those that have not yet seen it, I highly recommend you go and watch it. The movie is about a man that gets the opportunity of his lifetime, to fulfill his biggest dream. Right before he will make this dream come true, something happens that changes everything. In his journey to fulfill his dream, he finds out the key to our problem of always wanting to achieve his dream and thinking that by doing so he will forever be happy.
What’s that key element? It’s that our desire to achieve a state of happiness, our desire to find happiness or create it is creating more problems as a result. You can see it like this:
“Finding your happiness is like trying to balance rocks on top of each other. The harder you try, the more your hands start to shake, the easier the rocks tumble down. To balance the rocks we need to relax and take our time. The rocks will stop wobbling like crazy and you’ll be able to effortlessly balance the stones.”
We try so hard to be happy all the time. I even feel like I sacrificed a lot of beautiful moments in my life to some illusionary state of everlasting happiness. Small moments where I snuggle up with my past love or enjoyed the clicking of my keyboard as I was writing. These small moments were sacrificed because I believed that happiness was something to be found, or created. It was as if I was trying to get the rocks to balance on top of each other, but the harder I tried the quicker the rocks fell. Each time I felt like I made progress and felt happy, it quickly tumbled down and was followed by some moment of stress or anxiety. Something would happen that made me feel bad again.
And I believed that it was just a matter of continuing to solve these things to reach an everlasting state of happiness. Nothing was more untrue. By wanting to be happy all the time we create more problems than we need to. We are fixed on some vision of a happy life when that vision is all around us. We can live that now. And that sounds cliche and maybe even a bit cheesy. But what is your vision of a happy life?
To me, it is writing each day, creating content, filming videos, enjoying time with friends and family, playing video games, going out into nature often, and once in a while hit massive milestones or do incredible things and make my wildest dreams come true. All of that is already around me. All of these things I already have, it’s just that I feel like there is something to come that will make me happy. But that thing will never be there, that thing we believe will make us happy makes us blind to the joyous moments all around us.
That’s what I learned from the movie Soul. That all around us, there is beauty waiting to be experienced. That everything is beautiful. But how? How can everything be beautiful? Well before we continue to that, first ask yourself the question I asked myself. What does my dream life look like? What would make my life be filled with happiness? Focus on experiences instead of achievements. Focus on the things that you will experience in your day-to-day life that would make you experience a happy life. If you have the answer to that question continue this read.
“There is one question that changed everything for me. ‘What would my dream life feel like?’ See how I focus on the feeling, how I focus on the experiences instead of the achievements. Life is about the experience not about achievements.”
Part Two: Everything is Beautiful
Everything is beautiful. What a gift would that be right? To experience everything life has to offer as a beautiful gift wrapped in shiny wrapping paper. Isn’t this an illusion too? I’ve tricked myself into believing that this was an illusion too. Instead of believing that life could only be happy, I believed that life could never be happy. Choosing to see only the suffering. When in truth, it’s right in the middle. Seeing that everything is beautiful as it is. That’s what truly makes life wonderful.
“Beauty to me is the same as love. They are unconditional. There are no rules to them. You can not say ‘that is beautiful’, and ‘that’s ugly’. Everything has its unique beauty. It’s just that we can’t always appreciate it for what it is.”
Beauty to me is the same as love. They are universal. There are no rules to them. There is no such thing that can tell you one thing is beautiful, whilst the other is ugly. Neither is there a thing that can tell you that one thing should be loved, whilst the other can’t be loved. Love and beauty are universal, unconditional. So to see the beauty in everything to me means to love everything. And to love everything means to appreciate everything as it is. Not wanting to change it, or create something different from it.
So how can everything be beautiful? Isn’t there pain and suffering in the world? These for sure can’t be seen as beautiful, right? Well, I think they can. It’s seeing that the suffering can help us grow that makes it beautiful. I feel like when we want life to only be happy, we try to force away or forget that there is suffering and pain in the world. That we deny that we need to suffer, however sad that may sound. But that too is a beautiful experience. Why? Because by seeing it as part of life, by seeing it as part of the experience of being human we detach from it.
That’s when the magic happened for me. It placed me in the middle ground. Where I neither rode along with the highs nor the lows. When I was sad I felt sad, I just didn’t attach myself to it. I knew that this is just a sensation, an experience, a part of being human. The same goes for being happy. It’s just a sensation in the body, an experience, a part of life’s totality. That middle ground is often seen as boring, as lame. But I say it isn’t.
It’s peaceful, and it allows you to enjoy both the highs and the lows. It’s seeing the beauty in both. In the movie Soul, this was showcased so beautifully. In one of the scenes, the character was in an uncomfortable fight with his mom, but instead of feeling bad about the situation he started to speak openly, and lovingly to his mom. Speaking his truth. Yes, it was an uncomfortable and painful talk, but instead of riding that low, the main character made something beautiful out of it by making the most of this moment. By expressing how he felt to his mother and solving their long-cherished struggle. That open conversation changed his relationship with his mom forever, making them more open and loving to one another.
The next moment the main character went for a walk outside and enjoyed the sun, the flowers, and a slice of pizza. These too were beautiful experiences to him. That’s what the middle ground can do for you. It is feeling peaceful with whatever comes up. It’s all part of life. All is a beautiful experience. It’s only when we decide that something is bad, or good that makes it so. It is saying that an uncomfortable fight with your parents is bad, whilst going out with friends is amazing. Why isn’t that uncomfortable fight with your parents beautiful? Doesn’t it allow you to come closer to each other, to express your feelings? Isn’t it a part of life? Isn’t it an experience that you’ll cherish at your deathbed, because you didn’t step away from it?
“I quit trying to be happy all the time, and instead, loved everything as it was, and noticed the beauty in everything. What that subtle change did to me is indescribable. It didn’t give me ever-lasting happiness, instead, it gave me ever-lasting peace and joy.”
By seeing everything as beautiful, by loving everything I felt alive. Indulged in life. I didn’t want to be happy all the time. I wanted to be alive. Experience everything as it was. I didn’t want to run from discomfort or hideaway for suffering and pain. It’s part of life. I quit the search for happiness, I quit trying to create my happiness, and instead, I loved everything as it was, and noticed the beauty in everything. What that subtle change did to me is indescribable. It didn’t give me ever-lasting happiness, instead, it gave me ever-lasting peace and joy. What’s the difference between happiness and joy? Happiness is attached to only the good things that happen to us, it judges things. Joy doesn’t judge, it just takes whatever is happening at this particular moment and loves it. Like a child that rolls around in the sand. It’s damn uncomfortable to have sand in every crack of your body, but for a child, it is a lovely new experience. That’s what joy feels like. To love every experience as if it were a new one.
“Joy is like a child that rolls around in the sand. It’s damn uncomfortable to have sand in every crack of your body, but for a child, it is a lovely new experience. That’s what joy feels like. To love every experience as if it were a new one.”
Part Three: The “Being” Part of “Being Human”
Life is about being, about experiencing. After all, we say that we are “being human” right? If we strive to feel happy all the time, if we go and search for happiness, or try and create it we completely ignore our “being” part. Instead, we are doing. Searching is something you do. Creating is something you do. And happiness isn’t something we can do. It can only be experienced. Felt. You can only be happy. You can only be human. You can’t do happiness, nor can you do human.
“Doing” is part of the human experience, but “doing” will not give us the joyous, loving, and meaningful experience of life, we are after. It’s not about getting the results. It’s not about just experiencing happiness. It’s about fully being alive. It’s about seeing the beauty in everything. Loving everything. Experiencing everything. That’s what being alive is all about. That’s why I quit being happy all the time and started being human all the time. I must say it has worked wonders for me. Why? Because I no longer feel the need to change, I get to change. I get to experience all these different things of life. I get to experience fear, and worry, as well as love and joy. It all comes and goes.
But I, I remain in the center. Right in the middle. Neither riding the low wave, nor the high wave. Experiencing both, feeling both, but not letting them drag me with them. That makes life beautiful all the time. For if you ride the wave of happiness up, you’ll eventually come down again. But if you stop riding the waves, if you stop attaching yourself to happiness, or sadness, you’ll find yourself in an ever remaining state of joy and love for all of life.
That’s when we can say that we are human. That’s when we can say Today I Lived! I made the most of it.